Definition of sharp in English:


Line breaks: sharp
Pronunciation: /ʃɑːp


  • 3Distinct in outline or detail; clearly defined: the job was a sharp contrast from her past life the scene was as sharp and clear in his mind as a film
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    • Detail is sharp and clear, contrast is nicely managed, and deep black levels make this pleasing to behold - visually.
    • Despite their pervasiveness, lanning clearly shows that such sharp distinctions cannot be maintained.
    • Birth to three months - newborn babies can't see particularly well, but they do like to look at faces and distinct patterns with sharp outlines.
    distinct, clear-cut, clear, well defined, well focused, crisp; stark; obvious, marked, definite, pronounced, evident, manifest
  • 4(Of an action or change) sudden and marked: there was a sharp increase in interest rates he heard her sharp intake of breath
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    • Exports have been hit also because of the sudden and sharp increase in the value of the euro against the dollar and, most importantly, against sterling.
    • According to their calculations, neither global sea level rise nor faster melting of glacial ice could have produced such a sharp change.
    • By a ‘currency crisis’ he means a sharp change in the value of the US dollar that would hurt the economy as a whole.
    sudden, abrupt, rapid; steep, precipitous, precipitate
  • 4.1(Of a bend, angle, or turn) making a sudden change of direction: the bus creaked round a sharp hairpin bend
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    • They would travel in one direction for a while and then curve back in a very sharp turn in another direction.
    • Now was time to use my new toy, the strip heater, since I needed a nice straight line bent at a sharp angle.
    • He lay sprawled on the tiles, his arms and legs bent at sharp angles.
    hairpin, tight, angular
  • 6(Of musical sound) above true or normal pitch.
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    • The entire musical burden is shifted to the massive chorus, while fierce sharp chords pronounce the onset of the bloody wounds.
    • Rebecca knew it was really cold when Jimmy took a full ten minutes to warm up from slightly flat to his usual, obnoxiously sharp pitch.
    • The Quail's voice also gave rise to a number of imitative names in Britain and Ireland, which incorporate the three sharp notes.
  • 6.1 [postpositive] (Of a note) a semitone higher than a specified note: F sharp
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    • I wrote a few brass pieces, and my magnum opus, an orchestral epic called Life in C sharp, which displayed minimalist influences - lots of C sharps.
    • His annotations to this CD proudly point out the Cs, C sharps, and Ds that he must sing.
    • Also, there are many ways of producing an F sharp on a cello.
  • 6.2(Of a key) having a sharp or sharps in the signature.
    More example sentences
    • The standard treble is available in B, sounding a tone below written pitch and best for flat keys, or in A, sounding a minor 3rd lower and better for sharp keys.


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  • 3Above the true or normal pitch of musical sound: he heard him playing a little sharp on the high notes


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  • 1A musical note raised a semitone above natural pitch.
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    • Choices in successive levels expand to all notes, then sharps and flats.
    • The chromatic scale includes five additional notes - the sharps and flats (black keys of a piano).
    • Ex. 4 shows an octave of the chromatic scale beginning on C, notated in sharps ascending and flats descending.
  • 1.1The sign (♯) indicating a sharp.
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    • Chong goes so far as to indicate fingering with Arabic numbers; flats and sharps are marked by downward and upward arrows, respectively.
    • For keys with sharps, look at the last sharp in the series of sharps, and say the catch phrase ‘little step up, big step down.’
    • The smart little thing knows how to whistle the closing melody of one of my piano concerti, though he's added a sharp on the G.
  • 2A long, sharply pointed needle used for general sewing.
  • 2.1 (usually sharps) A thing with a sharp edge, such as a blade or a fragment of glass: the safe disposal of sharps and clinical waste
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    • Secondary prevention, by contrast, refers to practices and technologies that make sharps safer, such as retractable blades and shielded hypodermic needles.
    • Workers must be trained in safe handling techniques of livestock medical wastes, including medical sharps.
    • These safety shields will reduce the risk of accidental exposure of healthcare workers to infectious agents through contaminated sharps in the workplace.
  • 3 informal A swindler or cheat. See also card sharp.
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    • Deals of all sorts will be cut before this election ends here in the home of the sharps and sharks who have been cutting all sorts of deals for more than a century.
    • However, when the number is right, the sharps bet into books that post 20-cent lines.


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  • 1 (usually as adjective sharped) Music , US Raise the pitch of (a note).
  • 2 archaic Cheat or swindle (someone), especially at cards: the fellow is drunk, let’s sharp him
    [ late 17th century: from sharper; compare with shark2]


sharp as a tack

North American Extremely clever or astute.
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  • As a lawyer in Southern California with a mind that's sharp as a tack, it's not good to miss even one day (she's mega-prolific) of her blog.
  • It should be noted that his mind is sharp as a tack.
  • She's a lovely 77-year-old woman, sharp as a tack, without an enemy in the world.

the sharp end

see end.

not the sharpest knife in the drawer

(or not the sharpest tool in the shed, etc.)
informal Lacking intelligence; stupid: she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she isn’t dishonest
More example sentences
  • When I've seen her on TV she seems nice enough but definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • They aren't the sharpest tools in the shed but most are essentially good people.
  • She certainly doesn't look like the sharpest knife in the box.



More example sentences
  • Interest rates will rise, and possibly more sharply than had previously been expected.
  • For some he has struck a nerve and sharply brought home pertinent points that badly need addressing.
  • It seems likely Scottish growth will slow sharply for the rest of this year.


Old English sc(e)arp, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch scherp and German scharf.

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